Essential rules of the road for Italy – Part 3

Essential rules of the road for Italy – Part 3

Here’s part-three of our series on driving in Europe – this time it’s Italy! We’ve already covered two of the three most visited European countries – France and Spain – in part one and part two, so there’s just one left – Italy!

We cover what documents you’ll need to have on you, and what equipment you’re required to take with you in your car. Then we’ll look at some of the main rules of the road. But, as we’ve mentioned in all three parts of this guide, this is not a complete list of what you’ll need to know, so please do your own research too.

Now, lets say 'ciao Italia' and be on our way.

What you need to know about driving in Italy

As there are no direct ferries to Italy, if you’re taking your car there, you’ll more than likely be starting off in France. So we’d definitely recommend reading our guide to driving en France before you head off. Once in Italy, make sure you have the things we’ve listed below, and you should be good to go.

If you do happen to find yourself on the wrong side of the law, you could be hit with an on-the-spot fine. If you are a foreign driver, the police can insist that you pay one quarter of the maximum fine allowed there and then. It's best to have access to cash for this, or find out from the local authorities if they accept card payments. Foreign cash is usually accepted and always make sure you get a receipt. More serious offences, such as driving with no valid licence, could see your car confiscated.

Important documents for driving in Italy:

You need to carry your:

• Driving licence – you can drive with your UK driving licence in Italy, but as with most EU countries, you are not legally able to drive until you are 18. So even if you have your licence in the UK, if you’re not over the age of 18, you still won’t be able to drive in Italy.

• Proof of ID – you can use your passport.

• Proof of ownership – you’ll need to provide your V5 certificate if you’re asked to prove you own the car.

• Your hire documents – if you’ve rented a car in the UK, make sure you take your hire documents with you. And don’t forget to ask for continental cover when you book your vehicle.

Important Kit for driving in Italy:

The required kit you need to drive in Italy is pretty much the same as in the other two most commonly visited European countries by Brits – France and Spain. So if you’ve ever driven in either of these and bought the required kit, we’re sure you already have what you need for Italy too.

These are the required items you’ll need to have in your car while travelling in Italy:

• A warning triangle – you will be required to have a warning triangle if your vehicle has four wheels. This should be placed in the road to warn other drivers if you have to stop.

• Reflective jackets – if you breakdown or have an accident, you must wear a reflective jacket. You are also required to wear one if you have to get out and walk down a road that has parking restrictions on it.

• Headlight deflectors – in Italy they drive on the opposite side of the road to the UK, meaning headlights can dazzle oncoming drivers. So, you’ll need to adjust your headlights. Check your handbook to see if you can use stick on reflectors, if you can adjust them manually or if a visit to a garage is required.

• GB sticker – if you don’t already have euro plates, you’ll need a GB sticker.

Rules of the Road

As is normal when driving in any other country, there are sure to be some things that are legal in the UK, but illegal in Italy. So, we’ve detailed the main differences in the rules of the road to help you avoid breaking the law and landing yourself in trouble. However, we can’t stress enough that these are just the main rules, and you should make sure you do some further reading before you go. Find some time to find out about local Italian road traffic signs too.

• Priority is given to drivers coming from the right and vehicles travelling on rails. And you must also give way to emergency vehicles too.

• The drink drive limit for motorists in Italy is 0.5 grams per litre. When you’re still a novice driver, that’s usually when you’ve been driving for less than three years, the figure drops to nothing – 0 grams per litre – so don’t even risk a small beer. If you’ve been in an accident, you may be asked to give a breath test by the medical services, at the request of the police.

• Some city centres don’t allow cars to enter without an official pass to reduce pollution. If you enter the restricted zones without one, and your number plate is caught on camera, you will be fined. Look out for prohibited zones, they’ll be marked with a ZTL in black on a yellow background.

• Equipment that detects speed cameras is illegal, even if it’s not in use, just having it in your car could land you with a fine.

• You are also obliged to stop at the scene of an accident and offer assistance. The very least you are expected to do is call the emergency services using 112 for the police or 113 for general emergency services. Failure to do so is serious and will result in a criminal conviction.

• You’ll need to have your running lights on at all times of day and night, regardless of the weather conditions.

• If you have children travelling with you, they must be secured according to UK laws.

• Remember that when people flash their lights in Italy, it’s usually a sign that they are not going to stop, not that they are letting you through, as it does in the UK.

• The speed limits in Italy are detailed below and differ when it’s wet or dry.

Speed limits in the dry Speed limits in the wet

And we’re done. That’s the essential documents and kit you’ll need, and main rules of the road, for all three of the most visited countries by Brits in the EU covered. All that’s left to say is – enjoy your trip!


The research for Zuto was carried out by Opinion Matters between: 26th May, 2016 and 02nd June, 2016. Sample: 1,455 UK Adults with a Full Driving Licence

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